Danielle Collins advanced to the last 16 of the Italian Open after coming through a bruising meeting with Simona Halep.
The Pietrangeli Court crowd in Rome were given an evening treat as a dramatic first set lasting 82 minutes – and which contained a remarkable six breaks of serve – saw the balance of the match swing one way then the other.
In the end Collins took it with a clutch stretch – winning 11 of the set’s final 12 points – and the momentum of the match was always in her favour thereafter.
For Halep, the 2020 champion at the event, it will have been a dispiriting way to end her time in the Italian capital as she continues her journey back to full fitness having spent over a month off the WTA Tour due to a leg injury sustained at Indian Wells in March.
In a way it was surprising the first set took so long to conclude, with Collins blasting a huge 36 winners to Halep’s 12. However Halep hung in and took it to a tie-break.
The 30-year-old would, therefore, have been frustrated to put up a comparatively meek showing in that shootout, losing it 7-1 as Collins stepped up a gear.
The second set was always going to be a tough task psychologically for Halep, and she slipped to a 4-0 deficit in quick time. The Romanian – now under the tutelage of Serena Williams’ ex-coach Patrick Mouratoglou – did mount a fightback to return to 5-3, but Collins was able to see it out.
Collins will face fellow American Amanda Anisimova in the last 16 and it could even be another all-American quarter-final beyond that, with the winner set to face Jessica Pegula or Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka.